E3 2015 has come and gone. This year even had more activity than ever before, with tons of conferences. So, it’s weird for us, a mostly game website, to not take advantage of the most click-heavy time of the year. There’s a personal reason for that. I don’t want to feel like I’m intruding. Let’s face it; a ton of us are just repeating each other and it’s likely that you’ll grab all the major news elsewhere. We’ve always been about offering things we believe are less discussed or aren’t on the curve yet. So, you know now that there’s a new Mass Effect, Final Fantasy VII is finally getting a remake and the Killzone developers are working on a Monster Hunter clone. You don’t need us to tell you that; you’re clever, so you already know.
That said, just to make sure you don’t feel like we’re ignoring you, we’ll post some thoughts that may not have been expressed between the tons of hype. There’s so much hype, but for just this one time I think it’s justified. This E3 was absolutely amazing. In fact, it personally made me think how inevitably disappointed people will be next year, since this seems impossible to top, it’s that good. Anyway, let’s break down some points in the most digestible way a site can; a top 5 list. Here goes:
1. Bethesda Knows What’s Up
I’ll admit I had my doubts at the importance of more publishers throwing in their vote for a specific conference, after Ubisoft and EA have shown that this is usually a minefield of disaster. Hell, Bethesda can’t really show that many things, so unless they were going to come out with all the big guns, they were inevitably going to disappoint. Well, looks like I’m not always right, because the conference catered exactly to the audience it was hosting. Lengthy gameplay segments were shown for Doom pretty early on, with some crowd-pleasing moments. Dishonored 2 was made official, gearing up excitement even more. Then, to close it off, Bethesda gave the most stunning presentation of a game I’ve ever seen, with Fallout 4. It just had so, so much detail.
Bethesda knew it had to prove its legitimacy among a crowd of skeptics and it did so with fervor, while keeping a human edge on their corporate interest. I don’t think I’ve seen any other company address that their byproducts are gimmicks, let alone belt out a nicely accentuating swear now and then. These people love video games and it flatters them. Bethesda started E3 with one of the strongest events in years.
2. Vita Is Dead
It’s hard to find a way to dent the ironclad shows both Microsoft and Sony put up. Microsoft in particular, holy cow; I know they slipped some years, but not this time. Astonishing that Sony still found a way to go over the Xbox party, but it wasn’t with leaps and bounds like usually.
There is, however, one oversight Sony fails itself in. Vita is dead. I’ve been saying that since conventions last year and thought it internally prior to that, but it’s the hard truth. Vita is dead. Just like the PSP before it, the company made a ton of initial promises backed on some impressive technology and then immediately abandoned ship. Sony just doesn’t understand how the handheld market is a venture they need to pursue first, before letting the reins over to other developers. Hell, Nintendo still doesn’t rely on the kindness of other parties for its success; it shapes it on its own catalog.
Sony managed to squeeze in a hot second of Vita footage, not even putting it in their mouth themselves. I feel for you, Vita owners. It’s not going to get better, so if you’re not satisfied now, it’s not going to happen. What a damn shame.
3. Ubisoft Needs To Try Harder
Ubisoft has always been a benchwarmer. Their press conferences have never not been awful. Their lineups usually follow suit. This year is the same, though with a slightly different twist. Separately, I could get excited about several games from the company, from The Division, whenever that’s out, to Anno 2205. That last one, however, is something I had to look up to even remember that Ubisoft does anything besides make us cringe and pander to the dude bro audience. Here’s how I remember the event:
- Stabbing – For Honor
- Shooting – Rainbow Six: Siege
- Driving – The Crew / Trials expansions
- Stabbing – Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
- Shooting – The Division
- Driving – Trackmania Turbo
- Shooting and Driving – Ghost Recon: Wildlands
There are so many ways to create games, but Ubisoft doesn’t give attention to anything that isn’t immediate, shallow entertainment. It’s not even like the company doesn’t actually produce other games. Child of Light, Rayman and Grow Home are all perfect examples of other genres that get explored by Ubisoft, but they’re a blip between Jason Derulo’s prancing and a cavalcade of extreme stimuli. You better not have actually canceled Beyond Good & Evil 2, Ubisoft. That would make you even more of a frat bro than EA, who at least showed us Unravel. Step it up.
4. Nintendo Fans Are Impossible.
Nintendo once more showed a strong, no nonsense presentation in video format at E3 this year. It cycled through several new games back to back and gave us yet more of the main titles that we loved. That’s the reality of it, but the weird relation the company has with a legacy of increasingly more toxic fans has warped the event to heavens knows what. As a result, the commentary from so-called fans has not exactly repaid Nintendo in kind. I wrote in particular about Metroid: Federation Force and how it was accosted for its mere existence. That was, luckily, the worst example of a crowd that just doesn’t know what it wants anymore.
This is Nintendo; no matter what they do, they’ll be doing it wrong. Partially, that’s the company’s own fault. Since they’ve bred their entire reputation on just a select few names, rather than a giant scope of franchises, there are many people trying to dictate how just a few branches continue. That’s a recipe for disaster.
The naysayers can have their going-nowhere negativity. In the meantime, I’ll be able to play a new Animal Crossing, an awesome mix of Paper Mario and the Mario & Luigi series, Fire Emblem, Yoshi’s Woolly World, Xenoblades Chronicles X, Hyrule Warriors on 3DS, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, Yokai Watch and I might even give Skylanders SuperChargers a go. Life’s good over here in open attitude world. Have fun celebrating nothing. I bet you feel a-ok.
5. PC Has No Excuse
Man, I didn’t think PC, of all platforms, would drop the ball on its first conference, but it definitely did. Choosing a talk show format, the event revealed fairly little and took forever to show it, through leagues of awkwardness and nerdy stereotypes aplenty. It was a trial to get through in real time. People defend the show by saying this is the first iteration, but that’s implying that the PC crowd is now only joining us and hasn’t been mocking the console plebs from the stands for a decade. You had so much time to learn and you squandered all of it.
PC should’ve been one of the best conferences, just by pointing out what makes the platform great. Now, it ended dead last and I have never been less excited about PC games. Even publisher Square Enix had the decency to cut its losses and had irreproachable content in its favor.
I originally intended to write a piece on just that, but felt it would eventually be too harsh as well, so I’ll boil down the essence of what I thought was the PC conference’s issues: The show fell short, because it tried to balance its role as the nerdy friend, while at the same time trying to please it’s so obvious corporate interests. Those sponsor interviews were really transparent, folks. By not choosing what side to cater to primarily, the show failed to show a consistent approach. Way too casual for companies, way too dry for the PC crowd. If you’re going to shill next time, just Geoff Keighley it up. At least that cardboard cutout of a man put on a spectacle while selling ad space. Or, you know, look at the Bethesda example above. Alternatively, please don’t. PC gamers specifically try to get away from that sort of market.
Closing thoughts: Despite hiccups, I still hold to the notion that this E3 was absolutely spectacular, “best ever” maybe. I didn’t think I could get excited over that many major games, let alone get swept up in the hype. It regrettably even sort of removed my gaze from some smaller titles that I’m usually able to spot. If that’s your thing though, maybe look into overlooked titles like Rigs (virtual reality), Twin Shadows, Fast: Racing Neo or The Tomorrow Children, which is still definitely coming. Indie games are sort of taking a quiet time during E3, but maybe that’s better. Everyone has their eyes peeled on the big boys anyway.
Convention season is looking pretty damn great so far. Here’s to continuing that trend.